Captains Cove Residents Gird Themselves for Battle Against New Residential Development

A rendering of townhouses proposed to be built on property adjacent to the Captains Cove community near Greenbackville. Screenshot by Carol Vaughn of an Accomack County image.

By Carol Vaughn —

A group of Captains Cove residents is speaking out against a townhouse development proposed to be built adjacent to the Captains Cove community.

Captains Cove Concerned Citizens (CCCC) was founded years ago to advocate for residents on various issues; the group’s latest cause is bringing forward concerns about the townhouse development.

Two CCCC members, Chairperson Teresa Birkhead and Linda Reece, detailed the group’s concerns in an interview with the Post.

“We just accidentally came upon the application and rezoning for this project,” said Birkhead, adding, “It wasn’t even shared with the members of the community, even though they are the same developers for this community and the townhome project.”

The main reason the group got involved is “because it’s a community that they propose piggybacking off of what we pay for. We pay for our roads. The developer doesn’t own these roads, doesn’t have the right to give our roads to another community,” according to Birkhead.

The Accomack County Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings to receive comments about the proposed development Wednesday, May 18, at 6:30 p.m., at Metompkin Elementary School in Parksley.

The Accomack County Planning Commission in two 6-3 votes in March recommended the board of supervisors approve the rezoning and a conditional use permit for the townhouse development. 
CCG Note LLC has requested the county conditionally rezone 24.41 acres, the former Hastings/Mariner farm on State Line Road, from residential to village development and applied for a conditional use permit to build a 140-townhouse and commercial mixed-use development there.

Water and sewer service would be provided by Aqua’s facilities in Captains Cove.

Captains Cove residents at hearings before the planning commission spoke in opposition to the project, citing concerns about traffic and the added burden on water and sewage facilities, among others.

CCCC members plan to speak at the hearings Wednesday.

The group also has hired an attorney.

“We have already paid the attorney to retain him for an injunction. … If it does get approved, we’re going to stop it by an injunction,” Birkhead said.

“We only get four minutes each to speak so we are going to blast them with all these documents,” Birkhead said.

Additionally, CCCC planned to send a letter along with legal documents the group has researched to officials in advance of the hearing.

CCCC members have spent “hundreds of hours” at the Accomack County Clerk of Court office researching documents related to Captains Cove, Birkhead said.

“We have deeds, the transfer, declarants, articles of incorporation. There are even some things in our bylaws — these are things that cannot be changed by a developer. These are things that have to be changed legally,” Birkhead said.

Issues with covenants, deed restrictions, contractual matters, and other record documents (specifically the right of the new development to access Captains Corridor and Aqua’s ability to provide water and sewer utility service) were raised in public hearings and in letters presented to the Accomack County Planning Commission, according to Rich Morrison, Accomack’s deputy county administrator of planning and community development.

“It is clear that many residents believe that the developer cannot construct the project due to the covenants, and other record documents. The developer believes they can. These are internal matters and the county does not enforce private agreements or covenants,” Morrison said, adding, “The planning commission acknowledged that the issues are being contested and may have to be adjudicated between the developer and the residents to bring final resolution.”

The planning commission’s recommendation to the board of supervisors specifically addressed the Captain’s Corridor road access matter and Aqua utility services in two conditions of its conditional use permit recommendation, according to Morrison.

One condition says no building permits may be issued until the entrances on Captain’s Corridor are deemed to be lawfully established, after review and approval by the county administrator in consultation with the county attorney.

Another condition said the conditional use permit shall be null and void in the event Aqua refuses to provide or is unable or precluded from providing water and sewer service to the development.

The developer has proffered to provide water and sewer services to the development and access from the development to Captain’s Corridor in the Cove — those proffers became part of the rezoning ordinance, according to Morrison.

Although the county does not enforce private agreements, Morrison said, “We are cognizant of their existence. The planning commission and staff acknowledge the fact that the Captain’s Corridor access and Aqua’s ability to service the new development are contested issues.”

Birkhead said she pays $1,600 a year in dues to live in Captains Cove. Reese pays $1,400.
“Each year we pay that on top of what we pay for real estate taxes and so we’re like, okay, what are we getting for our money. We don’t get anything free anymore except for the use of a pool,” Birkhead said.

The proposed development could add 280 people (at two people per townhouse) using Captains Cove roads.

“And who is going to pay to repair it? We do,” Birkhead said.

The group also has concerns about the development using Captains Cove water and sewer facilities.

Additionally, the developer’s proffer of property to be donated for the Greenbackville Volunteer Fire Department came as a surprise to CCCC members, Birkhead said.

“There are 10 lots. Most of them the (property owners’) association owns; a handful the developer owns; and two are owned by personal people,” she said, alleging the community’s declarants specify numbered lots are only to be used for residences or utility purposes.

According to Morrison, the proffer statement provides that a 1.5-acre, pad-ready site will be delivered to the fire department. It does not list specific lots.

“In the event that lots are owned by private individuals, the developer will need to work with those property owners to be able to deliver the pad-ready site,” Morrison said.

The preferred location is on Fleming Road but an alternative is also offered on Stateline Road in the event the developer can not deliver the site on Fleming Road.

The proffer also includes a contribution of $430,000 over time for costs of a new ambulance and a new building, Morrison said.

If the developer’s proposal included having townhouse residents pay annual fees, as Captains Cove residents do, “we would not have so much of an issue,” Birkhead said.

Among the group’s major complaints is the allegation that the developer in reality has representation from four members on the property owners’ association board, giving a majority.

One board member who owns property at Captains Cove also has ties to the developer, CCCC claims.

CCCC plans to file a complaint with a state ombudsman about that, according to Birkhead.

“Our biggest complaint is, we have a board of directors that is supposed to act for the benefit of the community. That’s their job. That’s why we have them,” Birkhead said.

CCCC members “are just tired. We’re tired of them taking our resources and making decisions,” she said.

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